Global stocks slide, and China worries — 5 things to know today

An investor looks at screens showing stock market movements at a securities company in Beijing on July 9, 2015. China's market regulator has barred major shareholders and executives of listed companies from selling their shares for the next six months, it said in a statement, the latest government action to stem a slide in the markets. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Greg Baker — AFP/Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures fell sharply on Friday morning, looking to add to Thursday’s drop, as more alarming data from China spooked investors already fraught with concerns over global growth. The data from China showed its giant manufacturing sector slowing at the fastest pace since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, confirming the worries about its health that have preying on economist’s minds for months.

Today’s must-read story is from Fortune‘s Beth Kowitt, who interviewed Whole Foods Market (WFM) co-CEO John Mackey about stakeholder theory, his company’s latest controversies, and taking the organic movement a step further.

Here’s what else you need to know about today.

1. Oil still sliding

U.S. oil prices are headed for their eighth consecutive week of falls on Friday, the longest losing streak since 1986, after a sharp drop in Chinese manufacturing increased worries over the health of the world’s biggest energy consumer. Both global oil benchmarks are near 6-1/2-year lows, with U.S. crude heading for its longest weekly losing streak in 29 years. “The market is stuck in a relentless downtrend,” said Robin Bieber, a director at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates. “The trend is down — stick with it.”

2. War footing in Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his troops onto a war footing from 5 p.m. on Friday after his government issued an ultimatum to Seoul to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts by Saturday afternoon or face military action. South Korean Vice Defence Minister Baek Seung-joo said it was likely the North would fire at some of the 11 sites where the loudspeakers are set up on the South’s side of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the countries. Tension escalated on Thursday when North Korea fired four shells into South Korea, according to Seoul, in apparent protest against the broadcasts. The South fired back 29 artillery shells. Pyongyang accused the South of inventing a pretext to fire into the North.

3. John Deere reports

Agricultural equipment giant Deere & Co. (DE) reported a 40% fall in quarterly profit, hurt by weak demand for its agriculture equipment. Net income attributable to Deere fell to $511.6 million, or $1.53 per share, in the third quarter ended July 31 from $850.7 million, or $2.33 per share, a year earlier. Deere’s farm and turf equipment sales, which account for more than two-thirds of total revenue, fell 24 percent to $5.31 billion. Also reporting quarterly results today is athletic apparel and footwear company Foot Locker (FL), which had better results.

4. Latest economic data

Financial data company Markit puts out its preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for August. The index, which offers a look at the manufacturing sector’s current economic health, is expectd to rise slightly to 54.0 from July’s final reading of 53.8. Also being released today is Baker Hughes’ weekly look at the number of oil and gas rigs operating in the U.S. The number of oil-drilling rigs, which serves as an indicator of activity in the industry, has gone up in each of the past four weeks after previously dropping dramatically as the global oil supply glut drove down crude oil prices over the past year. Despite global oil supply continuing to far outpace demand, U.S. oil production remains at decades-long highs.
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5. Stocks look to end week with rebound

Slumping oil prices, a global market sell-off and uncertainty over the timing of the Fed’s impending interest rate hike sank U.S. stocks on Thursday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 358 points in its biggest daily drop in nearly four years. With the Nasdaq and S&P 500 also down more than 2% apiece so far this week, all three major indices will need a healthy bounce today to avoid ending the week in the red.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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